If You’ve Ever Watched Pornography, Read This

If You've Ever Watched Porn, Read This

When I was in high school my friends and I would watch pornography after school in the same way we played video games or played sports.

The general consensus was,

Pornography is harmless and everyone does it so it can’t be that bad right?

Well, we were wrong, very wrong. The latest scientific studies on porn are suggesting that pornography is much more dangerous than what most of us originally thought.

Here’s what the research is saying…

The Latest Studies on Pornography

One of the most recent studies is from Cambridge University which looked at 19 individuals who were considered addicted to pornography.

They did MRI scans and compared them to MRI scans of those who were alcoholics and found very similar activity in the brain, specifically the section called the Ventral Striatum which is one of the reward centers in the brain.

An article in the Socioaffective Neuroscience & Psychology by Donald L. Hilton Jr, M.D., suggests that pornography should be clinically labeled as an addiction.

He gives a hypothetical example of two individuals, one is a compulsive gambler and the other is a compulsive porn watcher. The gambler spends hours online trying to win the “next big pay out” while the porn watcher spends hours trying to find the next best “Sex Clip or Image” to masturbate over.

The behavioral reward systems and motivations are very similar, the only difference is that one reward is monetary and the other is masturbatory. Donald says, “Yet the DSM-5 classifies only the poker as an addiction.”

But is Pornography Harmful?

Besides the numerous anecdotal testimonies from couples, families, Christians, and non-Christians who can attest to the damage done by porn, a literature review of the latest scientific studies on porn is also supporting this assertion (Hilton and Watts, 2011).

1) Pornography has been shown to damage the bond between romantic partners (pair bonding).

2) There is a strong correlation (85%) between those who watch child pornography and those who engage in it.

3) Pornography has been shown to increase attitudes of aggression towards women.

4) The objective evidence that supports the notion that pornography is harmful has been suppressed by the media.

5) Compulsive sexual behavior through pornography in one study was shown to cause Erectile Dysfunction. Over 50% of the subjects had difficulty achieving erections with their real partners, yet could achieve erections with porn (Voon et al., 2014).

6) Research has found that men who watch pornography, rate themselves as less in love with their partner then those who didn’t watch any pornography (Bridges, 2010).

7) The guilt that ensues from secretly watching pornography leaves the watcher feeling lonely, depressed, and prone to psychological issues.(Laird, Marrero, Melching, and Kuhn, 2013).

8) Pornography destroys relationships and families. Isolation, mistrust, and insensitivity are just a few issues that can result from the constant use of pornography by one or both parties. (Wildmom-White and Young, 2002).

9) According to various studies, dangerous or group sex acts appeal more to watchers of pornography, putting them more at risk for sexually transmitted diseases. (Layden, 2004).

10) The deeper a person’s addiction, the more they feel the need to rely on pornography to cope with stress. Instead of dealing with real problems, the addict would rather find comfort in a fantasy (Goldstein and Volkow, 2002).

Pornography and the dangers of addiction.

According to Harvard Medical School, internal or external stress can also be a major factor for an addict’s relapse. When a person becomes addicted, the amygdala (emotions), the hippocampus (memory), nucleus accumbens (increased dopamine levels), and release of corticotropic hormone (stress) can all be interconnected.

As a result, the circumstances, mood, people, stress, and experiences, can all trigger this network perpetuating the addictive behavior.

This explains why an addict might relapse at the smell of a cigarette, the stress of a situation, or the sight of a sexual image on television.

When someone watches porn, a feel-good chemical called dopamine takes over their body. The brain responds by cutting down on dopamine receptors. The result? The person grows numb to the things that once easily excited them. He or she needs more and more in order to satisfy them, and the addiction becomes harder and harder to break (Bostwick and Bucci, 2008).

Pornography is not love

Pornography is the opposite of love. Check out why in this article here. Many people use porn thinking that it can somehow fill a void deep inside of them. They think that their inner longing for a true, substantial relationship can be sated by some pixels on a screen. And this mindset is dangerous, because porn is actually the opposite of love. Porn reduces its actors to just that- actors. Emotionless sex machines, pieces of meat, whatever you want to call them, porn paints them up to be anything but human.

In real relationships, you aren’t always going to be satisfied. On-demand intimacy isn’t going to be a thing, and you can’t just move on to someone else if you feel sexually deprived. Porn replaces genuine love with shallow lust.

Where is the scientific evidence for this? Recent studies show an obvious neurological difference between love and lust. The feelings of love and lust activate two separate parts of the brain. It was shown that, when shown pictures portraying attractive women, people with the damaged ‘love spot’ of the brain had a harder time responding when asked if these women were objects of sexual desire or love.

The part of the brain associated with lust is also associated with the fierce, primitive drive for short-term goals, such as hunger. In the brain, lust and sexual desire are equitable to pleasure. But love is a deeper, long-term desire, and that is what sets it apart. Porn does not promote love. It promotes self-centeredness, entitlement, and dehumanization. Those who are already in relationships unconsciously harm their partners by watching porn. Those who are single develop a skewed perception of what love should look like. Pornography does not have its intended effect.

What is the goal of porn? To feel stimulated, satisfied, even connected to the rest of the world who uses it. But the reality is that while porn may deliver for a short period of time, it quickly makes matters worse. Loneliness, anxiety, poor self-image, and more result from the long-term use of porn to fulfill short-term desires.

You’ve already seen how porn dehumanizes people and perverts love and relationships. When people are exposed to this constantly, they begin to have trouble developing actual relationships with other people, because they have been observing a fantasy for far too long. They don’t know what it’s like to be motivated by love and affection rather than a primitive urge. They feel disillusioned and disconnected because the world around them is nothing like they have been taught by the toxic messages of porn.

Porn cannot cure loneliness or depression; in fact, it increases it. Like any drug, it gets you high for a little while and then sends you plummeting to rock bottom. There are no benefits to watching porn, because in the long run, it only damages your mind, body, and perception of the people around you.

More Resources on Pornography

A retired physiology professor has also compiled a website with all of the latest studies on pornography. What he has found after reviewing some of the latest scientific literature on porn is that the same dopamine changes you find in addicts is also found in chronic users of porn (even worse actually).

Furthermore, they are finding correlative evidence that suggests that porn is an important factor for mental disorders such as Anxiety, Depression, and Social Isolation.

You can watch his TED presentation (The Great Porn Experiment) below:


Here is a link to his website if you are interested in learning more (http://yourbrainonporn.com/.

My Personal Belief:

As someone who used to watch porn frequently I can honestly say that it was difficult to stop watching it.

It’s always easier for someone engaging in pornography to say that its not a big deal when they have never tried to stop watching it in the first place.

The other thing to take into consideration is to just take a moment and look at the scenarios pornography typically creates.

Extreme and abnormal fetishes, bondages, women being viewed primarily as subordinate sex objects, scenarios where a man or woman has an affair, multiple sex partners, taboos such as incest, abuse and illegal sex with minors.

Is this something that you think is healthy to watch on a regular basis, if at all? Is this something you would want your children to see? And do you think that watching porn will not have any effect on how you view women, your marriage, relationships, etc?

Finally, the fact that pornography is so widely available and easily accessible is causing an increase in the exposure to pornography at earlier ages (Ybarra and Mitchell, 2005).

As a result, its likely that the amount of people who will become addicted to pornography will also rise.

My biggest concern is that by the time we find enough substantial evidence to convince people of pornography’s damaging effects, it will be too late and the number of people addicted to it will be staggering.

Regardless of whether you agree with my personal belief, I hope this article if anything provides enough evidence to at least make you pause…and think a little about whether or not its a good idea to click that XXX link one more time.

P.S. – Interested in some more compelling reasons why pornography is bad, check out this article.

Do you struggle with pornography? Do you think its a growing problem?

Blessings,

Peter

 

Comments

7 Comments

  • I just read a comment from a gentleman ( I use this term loosely & I’m doing him a favor by not using his real name ) who tried to tear down almost every legitimate point you made. HIS reasoning is askew! Of course you can show that alcohol is “bad” by using the alcoholic as an example! I think that this man may be addicted to porn himself – he doth protest too much. I have been personally affected by pornography in a previous relationship and your article was right on point. His “appetite” became insatiable and I finally had to walk away when he changed as a person. His interactions with me became aggressive and when I would point it out he would apologize however it didn’t stop. The tone of voice he used ALL the time was aggressive

    • Peter Peter says:

      Hi Donna,

      Thanks for sharing your experiences here. I do get a lot of emails about this issue and they typically fall into two basic camps: 1) Women much like yourself who have been negatively affected by pornography in a relationship, 2) Men who try and criticize the science and the objections I make.

      As a Christian, its honestly a no-brainer in regards to pornography. It does make me wonder though when I get some of these emails from men the angle that they are coming from (ex: Are they even a Christian? Why are they defending pornography so much? Are they regular pornography users themselves? etc.).

  • Analyst says:

    Donna,

    I am very sorry that you suffered such an experience. However, this does not mean that it is in any way universal – you simply might have had a bad luck (just as the women who engage in relationships with alcoholics).

    Here http://www.the-scientist.com/?articles.view/articleNo/28803/title/Porn–Good-for-us-/ is a good (not flawless though), albeit short analysis regarding pornographic influence upon men and their attitude towards women. Available data shows that “No correlation has been found between exposure to porn and negative attitudes towards women.” A fact you met a man who was prone to pornographic addiction cannot be used as general objection against porn. You could put up a similar list as it was done in the article for alcohol addiction, drug addiction, adrenaline addiction (in various forms) and there’s a high possibility that there would a response from a woman who went through an unsuccessful relationship herself.

    Furthermore, your argument is laden with cognitive bias, amongst other logical fallacies, such as ” I think that this man may be addicted to porn himself – he doth protest too much” which could serve as an example for argumentum ad hominem, because you don’t address any of arguments made by this man, instead focusing on his personal stance on the matter, which has not been revealed, and there is no logical proof that it might have skewed his perception.

    I do not defend porn addiction, I simply want to emphasise a difference between watching porn from time to time, and an addiction. Every addiction is bad – it doesn’t really matter whether it is porn, food, alcohol, even work or Facebook (which can also ruin relationships as person suffering from it focuses more on on-line contact rather than real ones), yet in most cases they do not experience social condemnation of similar magnitude, which leads to conclusions that moral views are main factor in evaluating different conditions. The main problem with the article we are commenting under, is an assumption that porn – regardless of its intensity and frequency – has to be treated as a bad thing, which is, I say that again, a moral, not factual issue. Pornography can lead to problems, just as many other activities we partake in our lives.

    To further support my aforementioned assertion, there are papers, like http://link.springer.com/article/10.1007%2Fs10508-007-9212-1 and http://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2009-12/uom-ate120109.php . I will not go into details regarding these papers, but it is worth noting that in the former, a survey in which more than 600 Danish men and women aged 18-30 found that self-reporting adults said that “hardcore” pornography had a positive effect on their lives. Researchers Martin Hald and Neil M. Malamuth asked the subjects to report the effects of hardcore porn consumption on “sexual knowledge, attitudes toward sex, attitudes toward and perception of the opposite sex, sex life and general quality of life.” The latter paper I mentioned regards a study, during which the male participants claimed that watching porn didn’t change their views of women or impact their relationships. On the other hand, there are papers, like Marnia Robinson’s Psychology Today piece, “Porn-Indiced Sexual Dysfunction is a Growing Problem.”, which point out problems with pornography addiction – a notion that indicates that a problem lies within frequency, not the thing itself.

    Also a short note regarding influence of pornography on relationships: in Bridges, Bergner and Hesson-McInnis (2003), men increase their use of porn because of inherent or pre-existing marital problems. In Stack, Wasserman, and Kern (2004), similarly, men increase their use of porn and affairs because of inherent or pre-existing marital problems. I’ve seen the aforementioned research to be interpreted in entirely different manner, with emphasis put on porn and great effort to show it to be an exclusive cause, ignorant to rudimentary factors leading to relationship problems.

    A side note in connection with the article: lust was, is, and most likely will always be before love. It is a human genetic trait, it allowed us breed and survive before love, as concept, was conceived. We may choose to control it, ignore it, but if we want to condemn it, then is has to be done in a certain moral framework (not necessarily accepted by others). Moreover, these two feelings do not have to conflict with each other: there can be lust without love, and love without lust. Most people need sexual stimuli to function properly (there is also asexuality, but there is no need to describe it in detail now). For more, please refer to: E. Shorther, “Written in the Flesh: A History of Desire”, University of Toronto Press, 2005.

    All of the above does not exhaust the topic, but I think I addressed the most glaring issues with your statement and, partially, the article.

    To summarise: pornography is not a bad thing in itself. Claim that it is can only be supported on some very specific moral ground, but not on scientific. However, addiction to it can be a cause to many problems, there is no denial about that, yet it cannot be the sole feature used to describe it. I adduced before several examples where addiction brings miserable results – to emphasise that again, think about workaholic – there is nothing inherently wrong with a work, but workaholism is destructive to relationships and families as proved by e.g. A. Bakker and E. Demerouti in “Workaholism and Relationship Quality: A Spillover–Crossover Perspective”. Again, it is addiction that affects lives in a pejorative manner, not a thing itself. Therefore I cannot call neither your statement, nor the article, objective – for that you have to compare pros with cons and draw conclusions. Both of them fail to do so.

  • patrick mutiku says:

    This is nice teaching,does illicit sex cause poverty?

  • dotty says:

    Have been an addict of watching porn for long and everytime after masturbating I feel so sad and empty. I had to Uninstall my YouTube app to see if I can stop. This addiction is bothering me..

  • Anonymous says:

    This article pin points the underlying deleterious effects of watching porn. One and many more can argue that watching porn has many benefits but what they really feel underneath is impossible to see.

    Well porn has ruined all the gentleman of this category and brought them a draught of wretchedness leaving them of nowhere except the pornoholic.

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